Combines familiar picture-book tropes into something clever and new.

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SUPERHEROES DON'T BABYSIT

Dealing with a little brother is a huge distraction from being a superhero, but it may also be just the job for a young masked avenger.

With a bit of the cause-and-effect feel of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this book describes the thankless task a young superhero takes on when her dad asks her to babysit. The unnamed characters spend the day dealing with messes and grabs for attention, culminating in a near meltdown (from the hero, who longs to shout, “I WISH YOU WEREN’T MY BROTHER!”). But it ends with the younger child’s offer of a favorite teddy bear and a hug, and the hero’s embrace of the idea that “MAYBE little brothers aren’t so bad after all.” It’s well-worn territory: the ubiquity of superhero entertainment, the writing style, and the lesson. But the elements jell well, and the illustrations strike a fresh balance, featuring aged photos, bygone wallpaper backgrounds, and restrained use of comic-book–style panels. The stakes are real-life pint-sized, not stretched to fantastical proportions, making the unnamed superhero’s journey all the more accessible. Any caregiver who has witnessed siblings start World War III over a hairbrush will appreciate this caped crusade, which effectively makes the case that putting aside sibling rivalry is a job big enough for a superhero. Dad and kids all have light-brown skin, theirs lighter than his.

Combines familiar picture-book tropes into something clever and new. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5064-5876-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A fascinating, splendidly executed peek into both the mundane and the dramatic aspects of lighthouse life.

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HELLO LIGHTHOUSE

This tribute to lighthouses of an earlier era focuses on one lighthouse and its dedicated keeper.

Perched “on the highest rock of a tiny island / at the edge of the world,” the lighthouse shines for seafaring ships. A new keeper arrives, continuing the endless routine of polishing the lens, refilling the oil, trimming the wick, winding the clockwork, painting the round rooms, fishing, making tea, sending letters to his wife (in bottles), and writing daily in his logbook. One day, a ship delivering supplies brings the keeper’s wife! The keeper rings a warning bell in fog, rescues wrecked sailors, and logs his baby’s birth. When he’s ill, his stalwart wife tends the light and maintains the logbook. Eventually, a mechanical light replaces the keeper. While the spare, unemotional text resembles a keeper’s log, the book’s vertical orientation echoes a lighthouse tower. Rendered in Chinese ink and watercolor, precise, detailed illustrations present the lighthouse surrounded by patterned blue, green, or gray waves depending on the weather or season, reinforcing its solitary enterprise. A cutaway interior view exposes a compact, contained world. Close-ups of the keeper and his wife (both white) in porthole-shaped frames and from unusual aerial views emphasize their isolated, intimate, circular environment. An “About Lighthouses” section adds insightful detail.

A fascinating, splendidly executed peek into both the mundane and the dramatic aspects of lighthouse life. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-36238-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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